overdoses

Feds Say Heroin, Fentanyl Remain Biggest Drug Threat To U.S.

Nov 5, 2018
Flickr Creative Commons

Drug overdose deaths hit the highest level ever recorded in the United States last year, with an estimated 200 people dying per day, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Most of that was the result of a record number of opioid-related deaths.

Florida prisons are seeing an increasing number of inmate deaths that authorities blame on a synthetic marijuana substance known as K2, or spice.

The increase in overdoses has prompted state officials to launch an educational campaign intended to show inmates the dangers of using the substance. The campaign was first reported by WLRN's news partner the Miami Herald.

There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.

In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Accidental deaths in the United States rose significantly in 2016, becoming the third-leading cause of fatalities for the first time in more than a century – a trend fueled by the steep rise in opioid overdoses, the National Safety Council reports.

Accidents — defined by the council as unintentional, preventable injuries — claimed a record 161,374 lives in 2016, a 10 percent increase over 2015. They include motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and poisoning, a category that encompasses accidental overdoses.

Pharmacy Technician amongst two shelves of prescription pills.
Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

President Donald Trump's long-awaited declaration that the opioid epidemic is a national emergency finally arrives this week, but some advocates are worried that it won't be backed with the money and commitment to make much difference.

Florida is enacting tough new penalties on dealers of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Jacksonville City Council passed a bill Tuesday that will put $1.4 million dollars toward a six-month pilot program to help treat opioid addiction.

  

Ty Hernandez was mending a broken heart when he felt a cold coming on.

His mom, Peggy, did the mom thing.

“You’ve got to rest and drink fluids.” she said. “The next morning, I left a note on the counter with some chicken noodle soup and said, ‘I hope you feel better. Call me if you need anything.’ And I went to work.”

For nearly four years now, an unusual coalition of Republicans and Democrats has worked to reduce mandatory prison terms for many federal drug crimes.

But that bipartisan movement may be shallower than it appears. Indeed, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who both supported a cut-back on some drug punishments, are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioid drugs. Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Feinstein is the panel's ranking member.

At a health care conference in Jacksonville Tuesday, Florida’s surgeon general said help is on the way for Duval and other counties dealing with the opioid crisis.

More than $27 million federal dollars will be used in the regions most affected by addiction and overdoses. Counties are expected to get the extra federal funds as soon as June.


WMFE

A record number of heroin overdoses in Manatee County has put a strain on families and facilities.

Those same overdoses are pushing the limits of the medical examiner's office, which has seen record numbers of autopsies in July and August of this year, according to the Bradenton Herald.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Manatee County, on Florida's west coast, is home to more than 300,000 people.  It's known for its beaches, and if you go just a short distance inland, you'll pass by the iconic fruit stands and working citrus groves.

Two new studies add to the evidence that Florida is making progress against deaths from inappropriate prescribing of opiates since the state cracked down two years ago.